Powerful Services Honor Rabbi Meir Fulda zt”l
Rabbi Meir Fulda, who died on July 28, 2018, had a seven-decade relationship with YU, beginning with his attendance at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys, his undergraduate education at Yeshiva College, semicha at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), a two-year principalship at the Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central), and a six-decade career as a teacher at both the Wilf and Beren campuses to both men and women. (Read more about Rabbi Fulda’s background and his annual Kristallnacht speech.)
On Sunday, Nov. 4, hundreds gathered in the Weissberg Commons on YU’s Wilf Campus to share stories, watch a touching video tribute to this remarkable man and hear remarks from Rabbi Menachem Penner (Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS and dean of the men’s undergraduate Torah studies programs), Rabbi Elchanan Adler (Rosh Yeshiva, RIETS), Rabbi Benjamin Blech (assistant professor of Bible), Paul Glasser and his wife Rachel, and New York State Supreme Court Judge Martin Shulman, among others.
Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, spoke for many in the audience when he described Rabbi Fulda as “a sophisticated thinker who, for us, represented someone who took the learning of Europe and the teachings of our past and dedicated his entire existence to transmitting those teachings by word and deed to the next generation. He was a force-multiplier, with a dramatic and powerful influence on our community and on our generation and the generations to come. We miss his teachings, we miss his warmth, we miss his smile—it is a loss that we will always remember and a light that we will always treasure.”
Mrs. Rookie Billet, principal of the Shulamith School for Girls Middle Division in Cedarhurst, New York, spoke fondly about her encounter as a high school student with Rabbi Fulda when he was principal of Central from 1964 to 1966. “Rabbi Fulda’s ideas were different from the black-and-white, good-and-evil distinction we were accustomed to,” she recalled, “a more mature and nuanced look at Torah Judaism. Under his leadership, our Jewish education blossomed. I remember him saying, ‘If you don’t continue your Jewish studies after high school, you will remain a 17-year-old Jew all your life. Inevitably, your secular education will bloom, because you will read, listen and learn. You will grow into a secular adult. But without continuing higher Jewish education, you must remain a 17-year-old Jew for the rest of your life.’ I heeded his advice about my Jewish learning, another valuable legacy from him for me and for generations of women.”
On Monday, Nov. 12, a second memorial service was held in the beit midrash [study hall] of the Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Study. Rabbi Yosef Kalinksy, associate dean of the undergraduate Torah studies program and an adjunct professor of halacha [Jewish law] in the Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies, noted that this second service was held “to recognize and understand Rabbi Fulda’s legacy and think about the love he had for his talmidim [students], Jew and non-Jew alike; as with him, it’s our job to be pleasant with everyone while at the same to be principled and have a sense of determination about our life’s goals.”
Rabbi Hershel Reichman (Rosh Yeshiva, RIETS) spoke warmly about how Rabbi Fulda “dedicated his life to living a life of kiddush hashem [sanctifying the name of God], dealing with everyone honestly and with integrity as he provided all the acts of kindness that the Torah commands us to provide.”
Harvey Sober, assistant professor of Jewish history and who himself recently celebrated a half-century of teaching at Yeshiva University, spoke in startling images about the power that Rabbi Fulda carried within him, saying that he had a “piercing voice that went into your shoes” and that “in a discussion with him, you felt your nasal cavities clear up.” Sober voiced the feelings of many when he said that he loved the man and will miss him.
We invite Rav Fulda’s many thousands of students, whose lives have been uplifted and transformed by his teachings and guidance, to join the Rabbi Fulda zt”l Legacy Committee in formation, or to share photos, stories, or memories of Rav Fulda, by contacting Rabbi David Eckstein at firstname.lastname@example.org